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Cougars wrap up football season at .500

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A goal-line stand on the final play of the game gave the University of Minnesota, Morris football team a 21-14 win over Crown in the season finale Saturday.

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After trailing 21-7 for much of the second half, Crown scored with under three minutes left in the game to pull within a score. Their ensuing onside kick attempt zipped out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Cougars near midfield to just run out the clock.

But on the Cougars' second play of the series, a Leandro Dower fumble was recovered by the Storm's Adam Helvie, giving the ball back to Crown at the 37-yard line with 2:01 to go for once last chance at a game-tying score.

The Storm quickly moved the ball down field, rattling off 15 plays all the way down to the one-yard line. Crown converted a pair of fourth down plays on the drive, including a fourth-and-10 play that went for 14 yards to get them to the one.

After spiking the ball on first down, their second down pass to the corner was broken up by Bryce Molden, leaving just two seconds on the clock for one final play. The Storm gave the ball to tailback Amos Schmidt up the middle, but at the line of scrimmage Caleb Forstrom and Shane Johnson were waiting to make the game-saving stop as time expired.

It was Schmidt's 25th carry of the game, as he had already racked up 104 yards on a windy day at Big Cat Stadium.

The win leaves the Cougars at .500 on the season, and gives them their second straight winning record in UMAC play. For the 13 seniors playing in their final game, they become the first to close their careers with back-to-back five win campaigns since 2003 and 2004.

Crown opened the scoring just five minutes into the game, and led 7-0 until midway through the second when the Cougars' Garrett Mensing ran one in from four yards out. A muffed snap on the point-after attempt led to Dan Garrigan hitting Brendon Foss in the back of the end zone to give the Cougars their first lead at 8-7.

Before the half ended, Foss caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Garrigan, and after the point after, the Cougars took a 15-7 lead into the locker rooms.

The scoring play catch was the 11th of the year for Foss, just one shy of the Cougars' single season record. Foss finished the day with four receptions for 39 yards, while Garrigan finished 6-of-9 passing for 62 yards on a day where the wind made it tough to throw.

Less than three minutes into the third, Dower did what he does best, busting around the corner for a season long 62-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars up 21-7. It was Dower's sixth touchdown of the season as he went over 100 yards for the fifth time with 114 total yards on a career-high 22 carries. For the season, the Cougars were 4-1 when Dower rushed for 100 yards.

Crown outgained the Cougars in the game, totaling 338 yards on 87 plays to just 215 yards on 54 plays for Morris, but it was enough for the win.

Forstrom finished with a career-high 12 tackles for the second straight week including a career-high six solo stops, while Cody Hickman led the defense with a career-high 19, beating the 17 he posted last week. Hickman went over 100 for the season with 106 and Forstrom ends the year second on the team with 77 tackles.

After starting the season 2-4, the Cougars ripped off a 3-1 mark down the stretch, losing only to preseason favorite Greenville last week. At 5-4 in the UMAC, the Cougars will finish fifth in the final league standings, with several teams left to finish the season next week.

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